Are You Actually Ready to Have a Happy Money Life?

July 27, 2021

Having talked about money with dozens of people, mostly women, over the past 5 years, I know that not everyone is ready to change their relationship with money.

And I’m totally not judging that! Because I wasn’t ready for a very long time.

In fact, years before I really changed my money life, I read and was inspired by a book called Debt-Free by 30: Practical Advice for the Young, Broke, and Upwardly Mobile. I was about 28 at the time and consumed most of this book in a single sitting at Barnes and Nobles. Inspired though I was, I did a really nice job of amassing more debt and living paycheck-to-paycheck for another 3-4 years. 

From my own experience and that of working with dozens of others, here are three main ways I know someone is not quite ready for awesome things with money. 

  • They make a lot of excuses. They’ve tried budgeting before and it didn’t work. They don’t have enough money to make any change with. They couldn’t possibly change anything about their current situation or spending.
  • They don’t have a good handle on the expenses in their life and justify their impulsive or emotional spending with phrases like “I deserve it.” While they may deserve it, the Target over-spending only feels good for as long as they can pretend like it didn’t jeopardize their other goals or bills.
  • They have a lot of rules for what cannot be required to make a change, or are really attached to a system that isn’t giving them the results they want. 

And conversely, here are some of the key ways I know someone is ready for happy and lasting change.

  • They’ve had enough with being stressed and ashamed about their money. This one is hard to quantify, but the way they talk about their money past and their future, there’s a pretty clear indication that they are at this point ready to get unstuck.
  • They surface and understand and make peace with all their spending and numbers.
  • They ask questions about what has worked for me and other clients. They don’t tell me what they’re not willing to do or the bare minimum they’re willing to do. I no longer hear them say that it can’t be hard or that it can’t take any time or that it can’t involve a new system.

So many women I work with haven't trusted themselves with money, and find themselves pulling money out of accounts to cover what was actually overspending. When kids ask her for money or treats or toys, she often says yes because she doesn't have a clear reason to say no. She is generous when other people expect her to be, regardless of what she can afford.

This sort of reactive money management has her feeling perpetually stressed and like she doesn't have enough. Or maybe she knows logically that she has enough, but perpetually feels irresponsible with her money. But no matter her current situation, when she is finally ready to make a happy change, she can rapidly transform her money and life, especially with a coach or mentor to keep from getting stuck.

What happens, again, often rapidly is that:

She responsibility for her money and spending, all of it.

She gets excited about the possibilities she sees when everything is finally in the open and organized proactively using a tool like You Need A Budget instead of reactively.

She doesn't quit because she gets a taste of the rewards early on.

She has way more money in her bank accounts than ever before, so much less financial stress, and feels confidently in charge of her money. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and even more beautiful to live.

If you are still working your way around to making a change, or teetering on the fence of motivation, here are a few things you can do to move yourself closer to happier money.

  • Ask yourself whether you like the results you’re getting.
  • Ask yourself what other parts of your life you’ve learned to adapt in, and where else you’ve learned new things that have made your life much better.
  • Write down the unhelpful things you tell yourself: I’m dumb, I’m bad with numbers, money is hard, etc. Look for all the evidence in your life that prove these thoughts are not true. That’s all they are, thoughts. Not provable in a court of law. How do I know? I listen to Dateline, and am now basically an expert at court stuff :-) 
  • Listen to podcasts like this one or this one that might show you how you might possibly think differently about money.

It’s worth getting there, sooner rather than later. Because, while changing your money approach to something way more proactive is not a guarantee for happiness, you will make so much more happiness possible for yourself and those you love. And this is something I know from my own experience and not just because I listen to Dateline :-)

Want more pieces like this one? Explore everything written pre-Substack here, and to get the latest in your inbox, join hundreds of others receiving the More to Your Life  

It's a newsletter for dreamers about work, money, and living a life of purpose, connection, and adventure.

No spam around here, just emails you hopefully thoroughly enjoy. Unsubscribe at any time.